Media General to FCC: Dish Should Be Sanctioned

Media General has told the FCC that it won't
tolerate being lowballed in retrans negotiations, that Dish is the one whose
conduct has been irresponsible, and that Dish's complaint against the
broadcaster for not negotiating in good faith should be dismissed and Dish
itself referred to the Enforcement Bureau for abuse of process and

Media General, which
has been in a protracted retrans fight with Dish (the stations went dark Oct. 1), was responding to Dish's formal
complaint against it for allegedly violating the requirement that retrans
negotiations be conducted in good faith.

"Reaching fair
retransmission consent agreements is crucial to Media General's ability to
maintain the high level of local service it provides as it faces rising costs
and increasing competition," said Media General in the filing.
"Although refusing consent for carriage to providers like Dish is
extremely distasteful, when MVPDs refuse to compensate Media General fairly for
carriage of its signals, they endanger the future quality of service to all
Media General's customers.

Dish filed its complaint Oct. 18, saying Media General had failed to respond to Dish's last offer before their retrans blackout. "There could not be clearer evidence of bad faith than when a broadcaster post-blackout refuses to even negotiate," Dish had said.

The FCC has an open
proceeding on more specifically defining what constitutes good faith
negotiations, but new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said this week he would have to
do his own analysis of the issue before deciding what authority the FCC has to
intervene in retrans disputes.

"DISH stands by the substance of our Complaint, and hopes that Media General will decide to negotiate in good faith and do a market-based deal to return their stations to our customers," said R. Stanton Dodge, DISH EVP and general counsel.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.